Upon hearing about her death yesterday, I couldn’t help but search the internet for whatever I could find on her century-long life and legacy. Despite all the conflict of interest claims and her reputation among my fellow planners as the “queen of sprawl”, I do admit she lived a great life devoted to public service and she will always remain an icon in Mississauga. Heck, she’ll even have an LRT line named after her. Her tenure as mayor spanned over three decades. By the time of her retirement in 2014, she had been in that role longer than I had even been alive at that point. She was so beloved by her constituents that she even stopped campaigning for elections.
Believe it or not, she had humble beginnings in Port Daniel, Quebec. Although she never fulfilled her ambition to attend university (parents couldn’t afford it), she began her working career with Kellogg in Montreal and later established the company’s local office in Toronto, where she met her late husband, Sam McCallion. The in-laws, being white and having land to give away, gifted the couple with a piece of property in Streetsville, where she eventually became mayor prior to its amalgamation with four other villages into Mississauga.
For years, she fought for Mississauga to become independent from the Region of Peel – a goal that continues to be pursued by her successor Bonnie Crombie. I wonder if her death provides a little extra incentive.
It’s a shame she didn’t live to see it happen.
It’s also too bad I never got the chance to meet her while I worked at the Region of Peel headquarters, the same building where she served as Regional councillor.
Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, is an atrocity that will screw us over in many ways.I lightly touched on it a couple months ago in a little blurb, though I did not get into the full extent of how problematic it really is. Now that I’ve had the chance to listen to some of the municipal council discussions on the issue, I’m just boggled by how big a shit show we may be in for.
Although the intent of this Bill is to incentivize housing development by waiving development charges and reducing parkland dedication requirements, it comes at the expense of cash-strapped municipalities that will lose a great deal of revenue from development charges that typically fund capital infrastructure, schools and.public amenities. For example, the City of Mississauga will need to cover about $800 million over ten years. Given the imitated sources of revenue that municipalities have, this shortfall may need to be covered by property taxes. So taxpayers are effectively funding developers without any guarantee that these savings will be passed down to the end user because home prices are primary affected by interest rates and market conditions rather than development costs. Further, we get fewer new community centres and public spaces, which means families without back yards (like mine) have fewer places to take their kids and pets.
The whole point of development charges is to have growth pay for itself since development comes with the need for more sewage, roads and emergency services, as well as schools and public amenities (eg. community centres).
The Ford government also plans to open up parts of the Greenbelt, which would undo decades of planning to curb sprawl, protect natural heritage, valuable flood plains, and Indigenous Treaty rights.
Further, just simply increasing the supply of housing in the urban periphery doesn’t address the real issue, which is affordability. because what’s really the point of building houses in places where those who depend on housing affordability can’t even get to without the luxury of a car?
The clear winners here are developers that plan to build another sea of cookie-cutter subdivisions on lands that should be protected.
The Ford government has given an early Christmas present to Fieldgate, Condor and others.
Proponents claim it will save commuters 30 minutes each way, which is bullshit. The latest analysis summarized in an MTO briefing note prepared by a credible past colleague of mine states that this calculation doesn’t even take into account the 407 ETR, an underunderutilized east-west corridor which may in fact be faster than the proposed 413 route, at least based on the modelling.
The costs are outrageous.
In addition to all the cultural and environmental costs, the new Highway comes with an $8.2 billion price tag. This Province has lots of other important needs that can use these funds including post-pandemic recovery support, public health, education, housing, and the rising cost of living.
There are more efficient alternatives.
As mentioned earlier, the underutilized Highway 407, which runs parallel to the proposed route of Highway 413, was created to serve as a GTA bypass to relieve congestion on the 401. An expert panel, appointed by the previous government to review the merits of the proposed Highway, suggested that traffic be diverted to the 407 ETR with the elimination of tolls rather than building an entirely new major highway. This conclusion led to the temporary cancellation of the project, only to be revived by Doug Ford’s PCs who falsely claim to be fiscal conservatives.
It opens more land for development
With new infrastructure comes more low-density subdivisions, big box stores, gas stations, parking lots, and other auto-oriented land uses that will not only pave over our last remaining countryside but also induce more traffic to be dumped onto an already-congested 400-series highway network leading to greater congestion across the region.
It’s not a matter of cars vs. transit
The debate in the media has focused on whether these outer ring municipalities should instead be served by mass transit (ie. GO trains), which is the wrong discussion because it really doesn’t matter. Proponents also argue that 413 will be a multi-modal corridor that accommodates higher order transit. The real issue is that new infrastructure beyond the existing urban areas, regardless of whether it’s a highway or transit, encourages people to move farther from major employment centres in Toronto, Peel and York, leading to even more greenfield development. I suggest you read The Shape of the Suburbs by John Sewell..
Loss of Archaeological sites and habitat for endangered species.
The 59 km highway would pave over 2,000 acres of culturally significant lands long inhabited by the Huron Wendat including burial grounds. Also at risk are 5.95 km of forests, wetlands and important habitat for endangered species such as the rare redside dace, whose habitats within the Humber River and Credit River will be affected due to the fact that the proposed 413 route crosses their headwaters, which will have adverse effects downstream.
The Region of Peel, City of Brampton and the City of Mississauga who you think would benefit from this Highway have publicly voiced their opposition to it and continue to do so. It may be good for the Province to listen to the authorities closest to its constituents.
There is still hope!
Even though the PCs have now secured a majorty on a campaign to “get it done”, there is still a possibility that the federal government will intervene and conduct their own environmental assessment. The David Suzuki Foundation has provided a nice email template to write to the Minister of Environment and Climate.
The Ontario government finally released its Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan, which sets out their vision for the region’s transportation system over the next 30 years. Although this Plan was initiated under the Liberal government in 2016, Ford and the PCs have now taken the credit. It’s a shame that a half decade’s work has become Mr. Ford’s political campaign advertisement to buy votes for the next provincial election. Despite extensive stakeholder engagement during the development of the Plan, it is clear that the MTO simply didn’t listen or even give a shit about anything they heard. Both the City of Mississauga, and the Region of Peel have publicly expressed their discontent regarding the Plan’s lack of details and commitment on key projects such as two-way service on the Milton GO corridor. Further, there is absolutely no regard for the overwhelming opposition to Highway 413 from the City of Mississauga, City of Brampton, Region of Peel, and numerous other prominent stakeholders.
The Plan includes a map of ambitious infrastructure investments including two “conceptual” transit lines, specifically a cross-regional connection between Burlington and Oshawa and an extension of the Ontario Line through Kipling station and Pearson Airport before connecting with the western end of the Line 4 subway. It all looks great besides the fact that important details such as costs and timelines are missing. As far as I’m aware, there has never been a single business case or cost-benefit analysis completed on any of these “conceptual” projects. Until then, the map is nothing more than a piece of art with a bunch of lines, which we have seen far too many times. Just one of many plans that would collectively make a great exhibit at the AGO.
Disclaimer: I may be biased on this subject due to my work with a party that has expressed concerns regarding both this plan and Highway 413.